Thursday, 9 July 2009

Beyond Sport conference: opening sessions

Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images

The early sessions at the Beyond Sport conference have provided some inspiring moments.
Compere Kevin Carroll discussed how hiw life "saved by a ball" and how he rose from a disadvantaged background to become head athletic trainer at NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers.

In the first session, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair described what sport does for us: excites, insipres, promotes tolerance andhelps many get out of a bad home environment. He also said he had learnt the power & limits of government to really develop and promote sport. Lord Puttnam received a round of applause for his points that educating girls creates systemic change and men are respomsible for a majority of the world's problems.
Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo has journeyed regularly to African countries, including his childhood home in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the last 18 years to help children develop their social and sporting skills. He said basketball had made it possible for him to open a US$30m dollar hospital in the DRC and admonished FIFA and European football associations for often merely scouting talent in Africa when they could be doing good.
Multi-Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Ian Thorpe, gave a powerful address on his own journey beyond sport, starting a charity at age 18 to help poor and disadvantedg people. He used the speaking opportunity to highlight the major health and socioeconomic problems in Australian Aboriginal communities and said it was disappointing that his own opinion was more important to the media and general public, because of his sports achievements, than that of the experts.

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